Combustible Celluloid
With: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Scott Michael Foster, Micah Hauptman
Written by: David Charbonier, Justin Powell
Directed by: David Charbonier, Justin Powell
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 88
Date: 10/15/2020

The Boy Behind the Door (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Making a gripping, hypnotic feature writing and directing debut, David Charbonier and Justin Powell's The Boy Behind the Door treads some familiar ground, but also breaks into fresh territory with its two protagonists. Twelve-year-old best friends Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) — who is Black — and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) — who is Filipino and Caucasian — are kidnapped after a baseball game. With little to no exposition or backstory, other than establishing the boys' enduring friendship, they are thrown into the trunk of a car. Kevin is dragged away, leaving Bobby in the dark. He breaks out and realizes he can easily get away, but when he hears his friend's screaming, he decides to stay and try to rescue him. There's a man (Micah Hauptman) in the house, and even when Bobby amazingly manages to subdue him, the camera shows us a timer counting down on his watch. It's a great touch. What could it be counting down to? Bobby moves through endless creepy rooms, never quite sure what to expect, but things get much worse when Ms. Burton (Kristin Bauer van Straten) gets home. Some moments make you want to yell at the screen ("don't drop that!"), and the movie's general lack of "hows" and "whys" miraculously give it an intense purity; it's all suspense. The filmmakers, like their young heroes, are lifelong friends of different races.

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